Aircraft dissipation trail in Iowa

July 28th, 2017 |

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

An aircraft “dissipation trail” formed over far southern Iowa during the late morning hours on 28 July 2017 — which was seen on GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61  µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9) µm) imagery (below).

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, tpo), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, middle) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9) µm, bottom) images [click to play animation]

As explained in this blog post, these types of cloud features are caused by aircraft either ascending or descending through a cloud layer composed of supercooled water droplets. Cooling from wake turbulence (reference) — and/or the particles from the jet engine exhaust acting as ice condensation nuclei — then cause the small supercooled water droplets to change phase and transform into larger ice crystals (which often fall from the cloud layer, creating “fall streak holes“).

Therefore, the glaciated aircraft dissipation trail appears darker on the 1.61 µm “snow/ice” images (since ice is a strong absorber of radiation at that wavelength), and colder (brighter white) on the 3.9 µm shortwave infrared images.